Friday, November 16, 2007

D-Link DIR-625 Wireless Router and DWA-642 Notebook Adapter

On a recent weekend away in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I decided to shop around for a new wireless router and laptop wireless card. My five year old D-Link 714P+ and Windows Vista on the new desktop were not communicating properly. I could connect to the internet, but downloads were slow. Our laptop with Windows XP SP2 had no problems connecting to the internet.

The D-Link 714P+ was a 802.11b wireless router with four wired ports. It came with WEP encryption and a parallel printer port. But the range was not the best, so it was time to upgrade.

I decided to stay with the D-Link brand and settled on the D-Link DIR-625 Rangebooster N Router. Up to 12x faster and 4x farther than 802.11g was the claim. Make sure you get model with the H/W version of C and F/W version of 3.00 or higher - this model is compatible with Vista. If you don't need Vista compatibility, the model with H/W version of A should suffice. This information is available on the box.

The laptop had 802.11b wireless built in so I also decided to buy a wireless adapter. The D-Link DWA-642 was suggested by D-Link.

The router was CDN$119.99 and the adapter was CDN$89.96 at Staples Business Depot (November 11, 2007) - total price CDN$209.95. This week Future Shop has them on sale - the adapter for CDN$69.99 and the router for CDN$89.99 - for total price of CDN$159.98.

OfficeMax in the US had them on sale. The router was marked down to US$79.99 and the adapter for US$59.99. For a total price of US$139.98. On a par basis I saved either CDN$70 or CDN$20. Either way, I saved some money.

I installed the router first. D-Link asks you to install the software first. During my first attempt, the installation froze. The second time it worked with no problem. I plugged in the router and it worked. I changed the default admin password and I immediately noticed that my internet connection was flying.

I fine tuned some of the settings to my liking and saved them to my desktop. I downloaded the latest firmware, rebooted the router and uploaded the settings. Works like a charm.

With the adapter, D-Link requires you to install part of the software, then plug in the card and continue with the installation. I chose to use the Windows Zero Configuration. The adapter connected to the router. Success. Well not quite.

I wanted to encrypt the connection using WPA2-PSK. I created a key and entered it in the proper field, but for some reason, Windows would not save the key - or at least whenever I rebooted the router or laptop, I had to manually enter the key. Hmmm, that's not going to work with my wife.

So I un-installed everything and re-installed the software, this time choosing to use the D-Link software instead. No problems. The key was saved. In fact, the D-Link software is wee bit more informative about signal strength and speed. The laptop was connecting at around 200 to 270 Mpbs. Smoking.

The router and adapter are working flawlessly. I did turn off multicasting on the router as I noticed the router was checking the internet every second or so for a multicast broadcast. I have never used that feature so why waste resources.

My initial impressions are positive. If you are looking for extended range and good wireless the mid-range Rangebooster N series is adequate. If you need gigabit wired speeds and even more range then the D-Link DIR-655 Xtreme N series is the way to go.

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